Number of charitable wills up by 11 per cent last year

The number of wills that included a gift to charity increased by nearly 11 per cent last year, research shows.

The Legacy Trends report by the legacy information company Smee & Ford, which covers the year to the end of December 2021, found that 37,242 wills included donations to one or more charities in England and Wales. 

This is up from 33,650 in 2020 and is the highest number in five years, the report says.

Total legacy giving fell from £3.4bn in 2020 to £3.2bn last year, the report says, although this was not due to lower donations but because of “changes to probate caused a slow-down in processing and a backlog of estates, which was then exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

About one in six – 16 per cent – of all wills left a gift to charity.

The report says 10,670 different charities were mentioned in wills in 2021, which Smee & Ford said was the highest it had recorded over the past decade. 

More than one-third of these wills contained a single charity, while about a fifth named two. One made bequests to 61 separate charities.

The figures are taken from Smee & Ford’s database of charities and the bequests they receive, which is populated by information collected by its researchers, who examine more than 5,000 wills a week. 

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